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Meet the Team: Alan Alderman Talks Commitment


The first thing you notice about Alan Alderman might be his winning smile, sandy blonde hair, or piercing blue eyes. He laughs easily, and loves to talk about his latest adventures, including the Talisker Whisky Challenge, which he’ll officially embark on later this year.

On paper, Alan is almost a perfect picture of health. But despite his easy-going nature and the platitudes he sprinkles throughout conversation, Alan is a warrior fighting against the ALS that is gradually stealing his nerve function and mobility. While Alan is strikingly articulate, his motor skills are weakening as the disease progresses. He uses his trusty motorized scooter to get around, and walks with a cane at home.

Alan has beaten the odds for nearly 20 years after his initial diagnosis, leading an active, physically demanding lifestyle in contrast with the way most people view the neurodegenerative disease. Prior to learning of his condition, Alan loved sports and being outdoors—hiking, water skiing, cycling—he was up for any challenge. ALS has caused Alan to note a loss of strength, which he jokingly attributes just to old age. Alan still loves pushing his athletic capabilities, but he’s had to make a few changes to his routine.

As he prepares to sail the ocean with team ROW4ALS during the Talisker Whisky Challenge, he’s added stationary rowing and endurance-focused weight lifting to his regimen, and you’ll find him training almost daily.

In addition to hours of physical conditioning, Alan spends the equivalent of a part-time job each week devoted to the cause in the form of meeting with sponsors, developing fundraising opportunities, showing the boat at community gatherings, cultivating a presence on social media, and even lobbying for awareness at the nation’s capital.

This level of intensity may come as a surprise for some, but Alan sums up his feelings surrounding his journey towards the goal of finishing the water race in one word—commitment.

When my doctor confirmed the diagnosis, he advised me to own my ALS, to take charge of it,” recalls Alan. “Those words have stuck with me, and motivated me to do something big for myself and others struggling with the disease.

Alan describes this race as “something most people could only dream of accomplishing”—a huge challenge in itself. The team is invested in making sure their bodies can withstand 45 days at sea, but they’re also aware of the mental and emotional trials at stake. Each crew member must be fully dedicated to the group’s success, putting aside self-interest, and fully engaging in the greater good of the team.

“We’re committed physically emotionally, personally—we’re in this as a team, and committed to each other and to the cause,” says Alan. “I want to show the world what someone with ALS is capable of, and live to the fullest of my abilities and capabilities no matter what challenges life throws my way.”